Rigid restrictions will, in all likelihood, not stop new strands entering the country, but rather will increase the misery of the general public

We are pleased to see that the health ministry, in a praiseworthy pro-active measure, announced that Bangladesh will mandate quarantine for travellers from countries affected by the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron. It is also good to see that the government intends to begin administering booster jabs to further fortify defense against the new strand.

It is certainly a shrewd move to require quarantine and to not ban travel, as experts from around the world have noted that selective travel bans do not help. Rigid restrictions will, in all likelihood, not stop new strands entering the country, but rather will increase the misery of the general public. In that regard, the government’s decision is calculated and smart and deserves plaudits.

The decision to launch booster vaccine doses, and prioritize individuals over 60 years of age and those with comorbidity, is also the right approach. However, the authorities must also continue primary vaccination throughout the country in a consistent manner. The government has recently taken a decision to impose a “no vaccine no service” policy. Yet, the details of how this should be implemented must be considered and evaluated extremely carefully, and its impact on the general public should be taken into account.

The authorities must continue to explore ways to encourage the public to get vaccinated, and the strategy of arm twisting may not work as well, nor it is apparent that the government has sufficient infrastructure support to implement such measures. Ultimately, there is a very real danger of the public losing interest in getting vaccinated because of mismanagement — we cannot have that happening. Remaining pro-active, maintaining health guidelines, and continuing vaccination — these are the ways we will remain a step ahead of any new strains.

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